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Piñon Hall evacuated after afternoon fire incident

graphic depicting a satellite beacon with the text "Breaking News" in all caps
(Graphic Illustration by Malia Berry | The Collegian)

Students and staff evacuated Piñon Hall Sunday afternoon due to a fire-related incident that brought Poudre Fire Authority crews to campus.

firefighter walking
A firefighter carries hoses away from the scene of a fire inside Piñon Hall Jan. 17, 2021. (Matt Tackett | The Collegian)

PFA fire investigators do not yet have information on what started the fire and what the extent of the damage to the residence hall is.


Chris Wolf, a member of the PFA media team, said they dispatched firefighters at 1:51 p.m. and reached fire control at 2:20 p.m. One person was treated and released for smoke inhalation. 

111 students had moved into the residence hall as of Sunday morning, said Mari Strombom, executive director for Housing & Dining Services, although more people could have been in the hall if they moved in throughout the day Sunday or were working in the building. 

Wolf said the fire investigators will have more information on the cause of the fire and its exact location in the building by Monday morning at the earliest.

“The most important thing is the staff responded immediately and evacuated all the students quickly (and) safely,” CSU President Joyce McConnell said. “The students were amazing — they not only followed all the evacuation protocols, but they followed all the (COVID-19) protocols, so they kept everybody safe. I’m really proud of what we were able to do so quickly.” 

Interim Director for HDS Communications and Sustainability Marianne Wieghaus wrote in an email to The Collegian that students were allowed to re-enter the building around 6:30 p.m. Sunday once the building was properly ventilated. Wieghaus wrote that University Housing will provide temporary spaces to students for the night who are bothered by any lingering odor.

The Collegian will update this story as more information becomes available. 

people watching firefighters
Evacuated residents of Piñon Hall watch as first responders tend to a fire inside Jan. 17, 2021. (Matt Tackett | The Collegian)

Editor’s Note: Matt Tackett contributed to the reporting for this article. 

Serena Bettis can be reached at or on Twitter @serenaroseb.


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About the Contributor
Serena Bettis
Serena Bettis, Editor in Chief
Serena Bettis is your 2022-23 editor in chief and is in her final year studying journalism and political science. In her three years at The Collegian, Bettis has also been a news reporter, copy editor, news editor and content managing editor, and she occasionally takes photos, too. When Bettis was 5, her family moved from Iowa to a tiny town northwest of Fort Collins called Livermore, Colorado, before eventually moving to Fort Collins proper. When she was 8 years old, her dad enrolled at Colorado State University as a nontraditional student veteran, where he found his life's passion in photojournalism. Although Bettis' own passion for journalism did not stem directly from her dad, his time at CSU and with The Collegian gave her the motivation to bite down on her fear of talking to strangers and find The Collegian newsroom on the second day of classes in 2019. She's never looked back since. Considering that aforementioned fear, Bettis is constantly surprised to be where she is today. However, thanks to the supportive learning environment at The Collegian and inspiring peers, Bettis has not stopped chasing her teenage dream of being a professional journalist. Between working with her section editors, coordinating news stories between Rocky Mountain Student Media departments and coaching new reporters, Bettis gets to live that dream every day. When she's not in the newsroom or almost falling asleep in class, you can find Bettis working in the Durrell Marketplace and Café or outside gazing at the beauty that is our campus (and running inside when bees are nearby). This year, Bettis' goals for The Collegian include continuing its trajectory as a unique alt-weekly newspaper, documenting the institutional memory of the paper to benefit students in years to come and fostering a sense of community and growth both inside the newsroom and through The Collegian's published work. Bettis would like to encourage anyone with story ideas, suggestions, questions, concerns or comments to reach out to her at

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